Fannin To Focus On Tailback This Spring

Mario Fannin has played a number of different positions at Auburn, but this spring he'll be back running the football for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--With Ben Tate gone after rushing for 1,362 yards and 10 touchdowns in his senior season, the Auburn Tigers will be looking for a go-to guy at the running back position beginning in spring practice. A player who will get a long look at the position is senior-to-be Mario Fannin.

Recruited by the Tigers as a safety, Fannin's explosive ability put him on offense right away when he arrived from Lovejoy (Ga.) High., but even in three seasons the ultra-talented Fannin has yet to find a real home. Bouncing from running back to wide receiver, Fannin has produced in the limited opportunities given to him in three years.

The 5-11, 225-pounder has carried the football 172 times for 982 yards (5.7 yards per carry) and six touchdowns in his career with his biggest season coming as a redshirt freshman when he had 84 carries for 448 yards and five of his touchdowns.

There is no doubting the talent that Fannin has and that is evidenced by the numbers he's produced. With 42 receptions last season for 413 yards, Fannin now has 80 career catches for the Tigers for 812 yards and seven touchdowns. Throw in 44 kickoff returns for 944 yards and he has a chance to top 1,000 yards in three different categories before he's done on the Plains.

But as of right now his future is back at running back full-time according to his position coach Curtis Luper. Luper added that bringing in talented newcomers Antonio Goodwin and Trovon Reed in the fall along with the return of Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachery, the Tigers' two big-play receivers, allows the move of Fannin back to tailback. Throw in players such as DeAngelo Benton, Emory Blake and Travante Stallworth already on campus and the depth at wide receiver should be plenty for Trooper Taylor to work with.

Coming in last year without much prior knowledge of Fannin at running back, the coaching staff got a first-hand look at him in the backfield when Onterio McCalebb was banged up. Carrying the ball just 34 times, Fannin rushed for 296 yards (8.7 ypc). Luper said that production was enough to show the coaches he could get the job done at the position when called upon.

With Onterio McCalebb and Dontae Aycock both at the position in the spring and Michael Dyer joining the program next fall, the Tigers could have a strong backfield rotation starting with Fannin.

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